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Zorro

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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 11,013

Journal Archives

CDC, the top U.S. public health agency, is sidelined during coronavirus pandemic

As the United States enters a critical phase in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s leading public health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, appears to be on the sidelines, with its messages increasingly disrupted or overtaken by the White House.

Neither CDC Director Robert Redfield nor Anne Schuchat — the principal deputy director who has played key roles in the agency’s emergency responses stretching back two decades, including the 2009 influenza pandemic — have appeared on the podium during White House briefings by the coronavirus task force for more than a week.

Redfield did join a smaller briefing Wednesday afternoon, for the first time since March 9. He and three other task force members stood with President Trump and Vice President Pence for the day’s second task force appearance. The event, which lasted seven minutes, followed a task force meeting with nurses groups, according to the White House. Trump and Pence were the only ones who spoke, and they took no questions.

The CDC, which has come under fire because of protracted delays in the rollout of agency-developed test kits, has not conducted its own telephone briefings for reporters in more than a week. Recent CDC recommendations on school closures and mass gatherings were overtaken by different guidelines issued by the coronavirus task force, creating confusion, experts and officials said.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/03/19/cdc-top-us-public-health-agency-is-sidelined-during-coronavirus-pandemic/

Why is the media accurately reporting my coronavirus actions just to be mean?

I do not understand why the media has decided through sheer whimsy to say that there is a very serious crisis happening and my administration has only just started to take on the task when they could say the opposite and everything would instantly become better!

Why would they create such a stir, voluntarily, when the panic that currently exists is the result of a series of words they could just as easily not say? Do they not realize what power they wield? It’s going to have real consequences, if they don’t watch out. I understand they are just doing it deliberately, to spite me, and that I am rising to the challenge, like a phoenix or a reverse Titanic.

Why can’t they be more like my doctor, who says I am made of glass and steel and impervious to time and — presto, it is so!? If they would only notice what a good job I am doing and how false and bad they are, and say that instead — we’d all be a lot happier. There is no reality but what they create! As a reality TV expert, I know this! I wish they would get it into their heads and stop creating a bad reality.

Now is not the time to be pointing out that, in addition to doing a slow, bad job to deal with the coronavirus, I am also continuing to pursue my passion and indeed hobby of inflaming racism. Now is the time to say that I am doing a good job, and that all my ideas are good. It would help me to hear that. I am like Tinker Bell or Jeb Bush.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/03/19/why-is-media-accurately-reporting-my-coronavirus-actions-just-be-mean/

A Deadly Coronavirus Mix in Florida: An Aging Population and Lots of Young Visitors

At the Florida community of The Villages, the retirement capital of America and the place with the nation’s highest concentration of older people, only 33 people have been tested for the coronavirus.

In the Florida Keys, swamped with young spring breakers and travelers from around the world, just 16 people had been tested by Monday night. Ten of Florida’s 67 counties have tested no one at all.

A disease that is deadly to the elderly and easily spread by the young has left Florida especially vulnerable. Yet faced with the prospect of dealing a shattering blow to an $86 billion tourism industry, Gov. Ron DeSantis has moved more slowly than some other states to contain a pandemic that is spreading with alarming speed. Whole swaths of the state have yet to begin robust testing, according to State Department of Health data. And even as some of the beaches still swarmed with college revelers, the state refused to close them.

In many cases, even people who have a known exposure or are exhibiting symptoms have not been offered testing, according to interviews with doctors, patients and family members across the state. While testing is falling well short of demand across the country, public health officials say the unique risk in Florida, where 27 percent of the population is over the age of 60, and eight people have already died, creates a serious need for better testing.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/18/us/coronavirus-florida-desantis.html

Bernie Sanders's moment is calling him -- in the U.S. Senate



The Democratic race for president is over. On Tuesday night, former vice president Joe Biden continued his remarkable run of primary victories, sweeping away Sen. Bernie Sanders’s challenges in Florida, Illinois and Arizona. As he did in Michigan and Mississippi a week before, Biden dominated the most important contest of the evening — Sanders (I-Vt.) did not win a single county in Florida. After Biden’s commanding performance on Super Tuesday, I cautioned that Democratic leaders should not push Sanders out of the race too quickly. That was then; this is now.

The United States finds itself in the midst of a crisis that is without parallel. Health-care experts warn that our emergency rooms may soon turn into war zones, unemployment could rise as high as 20 percent and worker’s retirement accounts can expect to fall even further on Wall Street. The crisis we are entering could be the most challenging since World War II. That is why the Democratic Party must begin to present its alternative vision to Donald Trump’s presidency in one voice.

Were the dynamics of this race different — had Biden performed in a less dominant manner on Tuesday, had Sanders shown a viable path forward over the past three weeks, had the former vice president not turned in his most impressive debate performance on Sunday night — I would argue that this race should go on. But it is now clear that Joe Biden will be his party’s nominee for president.

We heard throughout this long Democratic primary all about the “damn bill” the Vermont senator wrote. He told us all he had done to make the Senate more responsive to the needs of working Americans. If Sanders has that ability to shape the national debate and bend history toward a more just future, then that opportunity is awaiting him on the floor of the U.S. Senate, and not in an empty studio fighting a lost cause by streaming irrelevant campaign speeches.

There is no new Trump

If you think you’ve been hearing a different President Trump this week — more accepting of the reality of the coronavirus pandemic — don’t be fooled. The new Trump is the same as the old Trump. He can’t help it. He’s incapable of taking responsibility for his role in this crisis — and thus incapable of leading us out of it.

After weeks of denial and deflection, a seemingly chastened Trump on Monday conceded that the virus was, in fact, “not under control,” and was, indeed, “a very bad one.” What caused the switch in tone? Who knows? Perhaps it was the largest one-day point drop in the Dow Jones in history on Monday. Perhaps it was a study the White House received saying that 2.2 million Americans could die. Perhaps it was that Trump’s beloved Mar-a-Lago is getting a coronavirus-necessitated deep cleaning.

But the sudden shift can’t conceal the fact that Trump has shown himself to be wholly inept at dealing with the pandemic. It doesn’t change the fact that he puts himself first, always. It doesn’t alter the fact that, as he once told top aides, he thinks of “each presidential day as an episode in a television show in which he vanquishes rivals.” It doesn’t dissolve Trump’s compulsion to lie, even when truth would serve him best. It doesn’t diminish his incompetence, ignorance or propensity for administrative chaos.

And it doesn’t change his inability to accept responsibility. “I don’t take responsibility at all,” Trump said Friday. So too this week, even as he acknowledged the seriousness of the situation he had played down for so long.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/03/18/there-is-no-new-trump/

U.S. Virus Plan Anticipates 18-Month Pandemic and Widespread Shortages

A federal government plan to combat the coronavirus warned policymakers last week that a pandemic “will last 18 months or longer” and could include “multiple waves,” resulting in widespread shortages that would strain consumers and the nation’s health care system.

The 100-page plan, dated Friday, the same day President Trump declared a national emergency, laid out a grim prognosis for the spread of the virus and outlined a response that would activate agencies across the government and potentially employ special presidential powers to mobilize the private sector.

Among the “additional key federal decisions” listed among the options for Mr. Trump was invoking the Defense Production Act of 1950, a Korean War-era law that authorizes a president to take extraordinary action to force American industry to ramp up production of critical equipment and supplies such as ventilators, respirators and protective gear for health care workers.

“Shortages of products may occur, impacting health care, emergency services, and other elements of critical infrastructure,” the plan warned. “This includes potentially critical shortages of diagnostics, medical supplies (including PPE and pharmaceuticals), and staffing in some locations.” P.P.E. refers to personal protective equipment.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/17/us/politics/trump-coronavirus-plan.html

This Mysterious Ancient Structure Was Made of Mammoth Bones

Ice Age hunter-gatherers, foraging the bone-chilling, unforgiving steppes of what today is Russia, somehow completed a remarkable construction project: a 40-foot-wide, circular structure made from the skulls, skeletons and tusks of more than 60 woolly mammoths. The reason remains a mystery to archaeologists.

“The sheer number of bones that our Paleolithic ancestors had sourced from somewhere and brought to this particular location to build this monument is really quite staggering,” said Alexander Pryor, an archaeologist at the University of Exeter in England. “It does boggle my mind.”

Alexander Dudin, a researcher from the Kostenki Museum-Preserve, and a team of scientists began excavating the 25,000-year-old mammoth-bone circle in 2014 at a site called Kostenki 11, which is 300 miles south of Moscow. It is the third structure uncovered at the site. The discovery was published Monday in the journal Antiquity.

Archaeologists have unearthed about 70 mammoth-bone structures across Eastern Europe. But this one is the oldest on the Russian plain thought to be made by modern humans. Most of the previously identified structures were small, leading researchers to conclude they were most likely used as winter dwellings on a nearly treeless landscape.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/17/science/mammoth-bones-circle.html

Marie Newman Beats Dan Lipinski, Democratic Incumbent, in Illinois House Primary

Source: New York Times

Representative Dan Lipinski, a conservative Democrat from Illinois whose opposition to abortion rights and the Affordable Care Act made him a pariah in his party, lost a hard-fought primary race on Tuesday night to his progressive challenger, Marie Newman.

Ms. Newman, a business consultant and founder of an anti-bullying program, edged out Mr. Lipinski by two percentage points, with 493 of 500 precincts reporting early Wednesday. She had the backing of the progressive group Justice Democrats and its standard-bearer, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, as well as Emily’s List, the powerful group that backs Democrats who support abortion rights.

Mr. Lipinski narrowly beat Ms. Newman in 2018. Tuesday’s results were a major upset for the congressman, whose family has represented Illinois’ third district, in the Chicago suburbs, for nearly four decades. Mr. Lipinski’s father, Bill Lipinski, first won the seat in 1982 and held it until 2005, when Mr. Lipinski succeeded him.

“This is a critical victory for the progressive movement in showing that voters are ready for a new generation of progressive leadership in the Democratic Party,” said Alexandra Rojas, executive director of Justice Democrats. “This isn’t just a loss for one incumbent. It’s a defeat for machine politics and big corporate donors who want to stop our movement for ‘Medicare for all,’ a Green New Deal and reproductive rights.”

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/18/us/politics/marie-newman-dan-lipinski-illinois.html

The Era of Small Government Is Over

To stop the spread of the coronavirus, state and local governments have shut down as much of communal life as possible. People are also social distancing, staying out of public spaces to slow transmission of the disease. But this has destroyed demand for goods and services, putting the United States on the path to a recession that could easily become an outright depression.

Washington is, finally, working toward a response. But even the most ambitious proposals are nowhere near powerful enough to actually stop the coronavirus from destroying the economy. To do that, policymakers have to go beyond stimulus or bailouts for select industries. They have to take responsibility for economic life on a scale not seen since the New Deal.

Nothing has been passed into law yet, but politician’s have begun to float ideas and propose legislation. On Friday, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would offer free testing for all Americans as well as sick days and paid emergency leave for a small subset of working people. On Monday, Senator Mitt Romney of Utah called for sending $1,000 to every America, a one-time grant to pump cash into the economy. On Tuesday, Steven Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, called for more than $850 billion in economic stimulus, including $58 billion in airline bailouts, $250 billion in small business loans and $500 billion in payroll tax cuts.

Some of these ideas are good and necessary, if not sufficient. Millions of Americans need to pay for housing, medicine and groceries now and immediate cash disbursals are the only way to make that happen. To its credit, the White House has moved away from the payroll tax cut — which would only help workers still employed, not those who have been laid off, furloughed or who work for tips — and embraced cash payments, although they’ll only amount to an average of two weeks of pay for most workers and won’t go out until the end of April.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/18/opinion/coronavirus-bailouts-stimulus.html

Layoffs Are Just Starting, and the Forecasts Are Bleak

Angela Gervasi was enjoying a day off on Thursday when she got a text from a co-worker: “Have you heard?”

Her co-worker quickly filled her in: P.J. Clarke’s, the restaurant where she worked in Philadelphia, was letting her and some other employees go. Confirmation came in a letter citing “developments” with the coronavirus outbreak. By Monday, the place had shut down.

Ms. Gervasi barely had time to process the bad news before she got more: The Florida radio station where she had been applying for a job told her that the hiring process might be delayed as the station shifted to a work-from-home setup. Then, on Monday, she learned that another local restaurant, where she was training as a cook, was closing.

“Everyone is afraid to hire,” said Ms. Gervasi, 24, who is looking for freelance work to support herself. “Nobody really knows what’s about to happen.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/17/business/economy/coronavirus-layoffs.html
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